Picture of women feeling christmas overwhelm


Are you already beginning to feel a sense of heightened anxiety as the Christmas/New Year holiday approaches?

Many of us will have additional pressure put upon us by family members and friends, and/or equally will feel an undue sense of duty towards them. This can then become compounded by the continuous needs of younger immediate family and small children. Trying to keep our visitors happy all of the time is likely to be challenging. It is important not to take responsibility for everyone else’s emotions.

If you are aware that any of your visitors currently have too much on their plate, it would be worth catching up with them just before the holiday period. Arrange a chat again for early January. That way, you can offer them ongoing support without their problems taking over their visit. Nothing is ever straightforward. Being prepared in advance will help you ease through potential issues and avoid feelings of Christmas overwhelm.

How often do we sense a gift is given with additional strings attached to it?

The need for more calls, more visits and more acknowledgement of the giver’s role in our lives, perhaps. These are not issues to be addressed at the moment. Approach it at a reasonable time beforehand or afterwards, establishing strong boundaries and setting expectations. We all know of someone who is more demanding of attention than everyone else. Include this person in the celebrations, but don’t allow them to take over. Strategic management is key.

The first thing I would suggest is to let go of the need to achieve a state of perfect harmony for all present.

Reframe it. Accept that you can only do your best at any given moment. Don’t worry about what you are not doing or what you think you should be doing. Doing enough is more than sufficient.

Create space for yourself by suggesting that other adults take their turn to entertain any children in the house.

Some ideas could be walks with or without dogs, playground visits, games or shopping for any forgotten items. This will give you the gift of peace and quiet, even if only for a short time while you prepare a meal or tidy up.

I am already overwhelmed, so how do I cope?

This is not a time to address deep-seated relational issues. But it is worth noting that many family dynamics will shift as we move through into January. Spending extended periods of time with those we usually only see occasionally can bring conflicts, however small, to the surface.

Relational issues with partners or spouses can become heightened during this time when expectations are high, and we feel pressured to enable everyone else’s happiness. Rather than jumping into making decisions, it is worth marking time into the new year. This way, any choices made regarding the future come from a place of considered thought rather than an impulsive reaction to Christmas overwhelm.

What can I do to keep myself calm?

Along with making space for yourself, however brief, simple things like grounding and conscious breathing can help.

Any time during the day when you begin to feel unsettled, make a conscious effort to feel your feet on the ground. Gentle alternate knee bends can be made unnoticed and may precipitate a calming, deep breath. For something stronger, scrunch your toes up tightly and hold for a few seconds. This takes attention away from thoughts and into sensation whilst sending energy down to the feet. Repeat as necessary.

Any calming, grounding behaviours which precede a yawn, deep breath, sigh or swallow for example, are effective means of down-regulating the nervous system.

Try the following simple calming breathing technique:

  • Inhale for a count of two, exhale for a count of two, until comfortable
  • Inhale for a count of two, exhale for a count of three, until comfortable
  • Inhale for a count of two, exhale for a count of four, for as long as necessary

While practising the above, place your left hand over the heart and your right hand over the diaphragm. You may be able to feel your heart rate reducing as your nervous system rebalances itself.

Setting expectations

Understand that it is not unreasonable to prioritise your own well-being during the festive season, especially if you are responsible for the well-being of everyone else. Setting realistic expectations, practising self-care and focusing on meaningful connections will go a long way towards helping you navigate the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Both Somatic Experiencing® and Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy are, by definition, trauma-attuned modalities. Used together, either online or in-person, they can facilitate the resolution of embodied trauma in a very profound but gentle way, honouring the unique wishes and needs of each client.

If you think you could benefit from working with me, please get in touch. Email sarah@ytenehealing.co.uk or call me on 07747 111040.

Please remember to contact your medical practitioner in the first instance if you have any concerns regarding your health.

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